If you gathered together a roomful of new parents, chances are they would exhibit one common concern no matter their other diversities. Among the top questions of parents of children two and under is, "is my child developing properly?"
While a nearly universal concern for moms and dads, most parents have little reason to worry. According to the most recent numbers from the US Census Bureau's National Health Interview Survey, fewer than 3.4 percent of children are classified as having a developmental delay, with the vast majority of children developing in a completely typical fashion.
Typical, however, doesn't necessarily mean by-the-book, or the same as a best friend's baby or the toddler down the street. The process of baby development is as individual as the child itself. Pediatric specialist, Dr. Shari Nethersole explains, "Development in young children is extremely variable. Yes, there are 'norms' for when children should reach a particular developmental milestone, but there is quite a range around all of those norms."
For example, while most children take their first steps around 12 months of age, some may start as early as nine months, or as late as 15, and still fall within the typical developmental guidelines.
Dr. Nethersole adds, "Achieving these developmental milestones earlier in the range does not in any way indicate that a child is smarter, and achieving them later does not mean that the child is delayed. Each child will develop at his or her own pace, and while it is important to encourage and stimulate children as they try to master each developmental skill, I would not place too much importance on trying to achieve them earlier than other children."